The punishments meted out by the
courts in this period changed only slightly from those used
in earlier times (see Gallery Punishment
before 1450). Physical punishments,
such as whipping or branding, were still widely used and so
was the fiercest punishment on the statute-book: hanging,
drawing and quartering for treason. Shaming punishments, such
as the stocks and the pillory, continued.
As part of the new laws to suppress vagrants (see Gallery
1450-1750), Houses of Correction
were built in many areas in the late 16th century. These were
often called "Bridewells" after the first one, at
Bridewell, in London. These were like prisons in some ways,
but the inmates had to work, usually spinning or weaving.
Not only vagrants, but anyone the JPs thought was "idle",
could be sent to a House of Correction for a while, to learn
the virtues of hard work.
The late 17th and 18th centuries saw a decline in the "older"
punishments in favour of fines, prison and, a new solution
to the problem: transportation. From the Transportation Act
of 1717 up to 1769, 36,000 convicts were sent to British colonies
in America. 70% of offenders at the Old Bailey in London in
this period were transported. (For documents and more material
on Transportation, see Gallery Crime